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Hot, dry August prompts Halifax Water to issue voluntary water restrictions

WATCH: A voluntary water conservation advisory has been issued for more than 100-thousand people who depend on the Lake Major water supply. As Jesse Thomas reports, the dry conditions are also cause for concern with potential forest fires in the region.

It’s been a hot, dry month of August with very little rainfall and that has prompted Halifax Water to issue a voluntary water conservation advisory for the more than 103,000 customers.

The water conservation advisory applies to customers in Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Westphal, North Preston, and Eastern Passage — everyone who depends on the Lake Major water supply — where water levels are low.

“I know people like to water their lawns and keep them in tip-top shape but if you can avoid that … just don’t,” said James Campbell with Halifax Water.

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According to Environment Canada, Halifax has seen just 18 millimetres of rainfall so far this August. That’s unseasonably low numbers when it comes to historic precipitation levels.

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The boulevards of brown grass are good indicators as to how dry the conditions have been, which has prompted the water conservation advisory for some customers and if things get worse, we could see some mandatory water restrictions come into place.

“We had mandatory restrictions in 2016 and 2018,” said Campbell.  “We issued this voluntary one just yesterday to try and keep ahead of that. We don’t want to get to the mandatory restriction stage and so we are asking folks to all pull together and hopefully we won’t have to get to mandatory water restrictions.”

Halifax Water is currently building a new dam at the Lake Major site which will help improve water conservation in the future but the fact of the matter remains, they need more rain.

“We’re down half a metre from where we’d like to be at this point,” said Campbell.

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The dry and hot weather has also kept the Halifax Fire Department busy these past few weeks, as they’ve been dealing with a number of smaller fires in wooded areas.

“Those fires are caused by a number of things, from careless disposal of smoking material like cigarettes and so forth, to campfires left unattended, to people burning brush and not keeping an eye on it,” said Chuck Bezanson, assistant chief with Halifax Fire.

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The fire department is urging the public to keep an eye on the burn ban updates, as they are released daily at 2 p.m.

When it comes to water conservation, Halifax Fire is also doing its part.

“We’ve restricted a lot of our training that involves high flow water,” said Bezanson.  “And we’ve restricted the washing of our trucks that’s unnecessary and doing anything that’s unnecessary with water within our stations.”